PCP HIV AIDS Toolkit/Faith Leaders
Working with Faith-Based Organizations and Leaders in the Faith Community
Disclaimer: this article is based on experiences with Catholic and Evangelical Christian organizations.
This is a special note for volunteers working in faith-based centers or communities, who are uncertain about how to begin HIV/AIDS activities or who have been unsuccessful in carrying out activities because of lack of a supportive counterpart. The later referring to a fizzled project: you started an activity with an enthusiastic partner, but then, inexplicably everything went array.
Like introducing other ideas for change, working on HIV/AIDS activities will require you getting to know your organization’s tolerance level and working within that range. It will require you getting to know what unspoken or hidden issues are concerning your counterparts. Consider the aspect of religion and faith as an additional cultural lens with which you must explore and understand. Here are some examples:
You know that Catholicism is a hierarchy and that in order to practice their faith with integrity; Catholics will follow the direction of their church leaders. While your center may not want to talk about how HIV/AIDS is transmitted, that doesn’t rule out all activities. The Catholic Church is a steadfast supporter of human rights and perhaps your center will be more interested in watching a movie, like; Philadelphia and having a discussion about preserving the dignity of all people regardless of healthcare status.
So the obvious is first, learn about the faith background of your organization, and its faith history: was your organization founded by foreign or domestic missionaries; and how connected are they with the national/international faith community. If your organization is Catholic, you could look into the work of Catholic Relief Services in the Philippines to see the human advocacy efforts they are working towards. You could use the Updated Partners Directory in the Appendices Section of this site, to locate NGOs in your province; they could be sources of support and information for you. Once you know their faith background you can plan a strategy for pitching ideas. Here’s an example of a strategy with a Christian NGO:
One day a PCV stumbled into a conversation with her co-workers about “third party.” In particular, her co-workers were worried that so many of the youth in the center came from families with unmarried parents. From that conversation, emerged the idea of having an activity with youth where they could talk about their expectations for dating and marriage. This was the entry point to HIV/AIDS activities later; and other activities about sexual decision-making, and reproductive health.
Your strategy depends on your counterpart and how she/he views the problem.
Creating a Project
Planning a project follows all the same steps, as outlined in the other articles on this site, or in your trusty PACA manual. Keep it simple and keep a balance between being too cautious and being avant-garde.
- Providing a staff training about HIV/AIDS; it could be a general information session or a training of trainers (hesitancy comes from lack of education and exposure)
- The modules: Baby Elephant, Myth-Fact, and the Handshake game (aka Wildfire) tend to run together smoothly for an activity about 90 - 120minutes. You could play Pass the Hat at the end to identify unanswered questions. This has been a popular module that has been implemented by PCVs. They learned about the module through their participation in World AIDS Day activities in Kalibo, Aklan.
- Invite a guest speaker from Pinoy Plus. If there is no Pinoy Plus in your area, get in contact with your local AIDS Council to identify potential speakers.